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Is the new iPad a 4G data hog?

The latest iPad comes with 4G connectivity. And that may not always be a good thing, consumers are finding. 

By Matthew Shaer / March 23, 2012

An Apple store in Toronto.

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The new iPad: By all accounts a solid machine, and a worthy successor the iPad 2

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Also: Something of a data hog. According to a new report in the Wall Street Journal, users are finding that the latest version of Apple's popular tablet, which comes equipped with 4G LTE capability, siphons through data at an alarming rate. Now nominally, of course, faster download speeds are a good thing. The faster the download speeds, the less buffering and the better the video quality. 

But 4G isn't free – folks who bought an LTE-equipped iPad signed for one of three data plans, each with a different download cap. AT&T, for instance, offers 250 MB for $14.99 a month; 3 GB for $30 a month; or 5 GB for $50 a month. Overshoot those limits, and you pay a fee. And with 4G, it's often really easy to overshoot the limits. (It's worth noting here that it costs nothing to access data via the Wi-Fi antenna on any iPad.) 

"It's kind of a Catch-22," one user told the Wall Street Journal. "It streams really fast video, but by streaming really fast video you tend to watch more video, and that's not always best." 

Suffice to say this ain't exactly a problem that's going to go away anytime soon. As carriers such as AT&T and Verizon increase the range and capacity of their 4G LTE networks – and as more devices come equipped with 4G antennas – we're all going to have to control our urge to slurp down massive amounts of data. Or else, we're going to have to learn to rely a whole lot more on Wi-Fi. 

In related news, the battery meter on the new iPad may not be fully accurate. Dr. Raymond M. Soneira, creator of DisplayMate (hat tip to Ars Technica) recently conducted a test on the Apple tablet and found that the device often keeps charging for an hour after the thing is fully charged. "[I]f getting maximum battery run time is crucial, people need to keep their devices recharging for longer than the screen claims," Soneira told the Ars team. 

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